Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tag, You're It!

I just picked this up from TieDyeJudy's weblog so I'm passing it on...

Closest Book To You -- How to play:

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note in your BLOG.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual... Use the CLOSEST.

Okay, well the closest book to me is Black Out by Lisa Unger, a terrific novel I'm nearly finished with. The fifth sentence on page 56 reads:

"Just hang in there, Opie," my father said calmly on the other line."

How interesting is this?! That's exactly what I needed to hear at this precise moment!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Hot off the press -- actually, hot out from under the iron -- my weekly quilt, 5/52.2009 ~ Baubles. This is a little piece of cotton that I dyed, discharged and batiked, I can't remember in what order. I'm trying to do something different each week...what's different about this one is that I machine stitched the binding with big organic zig zag stitches, rather than hem it by hand.

I'll do just about anything to save my hands these days -- although it's a toss up between quilting and hand stitching, they're both hand-intensive.

I have another discharge quilt on the front burner, and two lengths of art cloth that I hope to be finishing in the next few days.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Shibori Do-Over

Handwoven silk shibori art clothThis piece, just above, used to be the piece below. The new colors on the redone piece, which is handwoven silk woven shibori, are so complex that it was difficult to photograph. How I got from A, below, to B, above, was this:

The cloth was originally dyed with acid dyes, so I used discharge paste to do bomaki shibori - and the discharge paste did nothing, no surprises there. That's my last attempt at removing color with Jacquard Discharge Paste. Anyhow, then I thioxed it. I still wasn't happy with the color removal, so then for good measure I bleached it for just a few minutes in a 1/3 solution with water. I rinsed it in anti-chlor, then washed in hot water and synthrapol. While it was clean and still wet, I immersed it in a bath of violet acid dye. And you see what I got.

Woven Shibori scarf I love turning finished pieces into something else, something more complex, a finished piece of art cloth instead of a scarf. Even though I've handwoven this piece -- and previous do-overs -- by the time I've decided to do something new with it, all sense of risk seems to have vanished. I'm not attached to it. I'm willing to experiment and work with what I get, and keep working it until I like it.

I suppose this art process is a metaphor for my life...I keep working at it until I get it right, 'til I'm happy with it, 'til I can comfortably live with it, 'til I'm willing to put it out into the world and claim it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Stuff

Phoenix, handwoven art clothI love to actually come to the end of a project or piece, to call it done! Here's my latest art cloth piece, entitled Phoenix. I posted photos on the blog while it was in process so it might be familiar to you. It's handwoven of cotton and cotton/tencel, loom-controlled mokume shibori, underpainted with fiber reactive dyes, shibori discharged with bleach, arashi shibori'd with thiox, and finally the lines were enhanced with fabric pen. I've been looking at it in my studio for a couple of weeks, and decided I'd stick with the simplicity of it rather than gum it up, so to speak, with additional surface design.

Phoenix, handwoven art cloth

Also today, I finally made myself a design wall to pin up quilts-in-process. Here you see two new discharge quilts I've been mulling over for a while, and hope to finish in the next week or so.

gallery wall in my studio

The design wall itself is a piece of sound board -- that half-inch fibrous board that you can put pins in -- that's 3' x 4', covered with a piece of non-pilling fleece. I also have a piece of black fleece to use as a backing when needed. I just nailed the board to the wall. It'll make photographing finished work a lot easier now, as well.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Art Imitates Art

4/52.2009 ~ Tropical Dream, 10x10

I spent much of today finishing my fourth 10" x 10" weekly quilt, 4/52.2009 ~ Tropical Dream. The inspiration for this piece comes from a collage I created nine days ago. This is it, below...

Collage that inspired Tropical Dream One of my intentions in doing daily collages was that they inspire small quilts. So here I've done the first -- of many, I hope. Because I'm creating some really cool collages, and I like the challenge of figuring out how to represent in fabric something that was created with mostly paper and paint.

I've also been busy with creative "housekeeping" -- digital printing fabric labels for all my quilts, making hanging sleeves for all except the smallest ones, creating a database of all my finished work for exhibit and sale (quilts, art cloth, special woven pieces), organizing images on my computer.

And numerous other creative projects tomorrow!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

SAQA's 20th Anniversary Trunk Show

Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) recently called for entries for their upcoming Meet SAQA's Artists: SAQA's 20th Anniversary Trunk Show -- and the little piece above is what I submitted last week. They will be matting and framing the pieces so it wasn't necessary to finish the edges.

From SAQA's website: SAQA is almost 20 years old, with more than 2200 members from all over the world. The Exhibition Committee wanted to make that world a little smaller by introducing ourselves to each other through our artwork. As part of our 20th Anniversary celebration, we are planning "Meet SAQA's Artists: SAQA's 20th Anniversary Trunk Show." These works will be available for travel to each of our regions, upon request, during our 20th Anniversary celebration. The regions may share them with their members and use them to showcase SAQA and its mission.

A portion of "Meet SAQA's Artists" will then be selected to become an important study collection at the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. IQSC is devoted to the preservation, study and exhibition of quilts and to sharing its resources with the public. The donation of the selected works from the "Meet SAQA's Artists" project will create an important archive representing both SAQA and the artists who are working in the studio art quilt medium in 2009-a historical benchmark to assist future historians, academics, writers and others tracking the art quilt movement. To have a permanent, archived collection of representative work at the IQSC and the University is an important realization of SAQA's educational mission.

I wasn't going to bother posting my entry, but others in SAQA have been posting theirs, so here's mine!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Art On Demand

This is the art quilt I finished today, Discharge Series, 4. I actually made these two pieces this week (today's and yesterday's) to submit to an exhibit on the East Coast, and I've got to send off the application and images this Friday. I had been thinking about these two quilts, the one above especially, and deciding to enter the show gave me the impetus to actually create the art. So in essence, it was a case of producing art on demand.

In the quilt pictured here, which is 13 x 25.5 inches, the discharged fabric is cotton gauze and the backing is rayon. Because the top fabric was relatively flimsy, I put a traditional border on this one. Yesterday's piece, without the traditional border, was made of a discharged cotton top with linen/rayon backing.

Tomorrow I'll be working on my 4/52 quilt for this week plus finishing up two art cloth pieces.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

While I Was Watching...

...and listening to the Inauguration on TV yesterday, I finished this quilt, Discharge Series, 3. I'm stoked about this piece, which is 16 x 16 inches. I did a non-traditional binding on it -- instead of wrapping the backing around and stitching to the front, I sewed the back and front together by hand and quilted the design right to the edge.

And today I'll be working on a companion piece with a completely different discharged fabric. Feels like I lost two days this week, with Monday and Tuesday's holiday and major world event. And I still have lots that I want to do.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama & The Arts

Go here to read a terrific Newsweek article out this week about the possibility of The Arts in the new Obama Administration.

And have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

3/52.2009 "Weathered Wall"

And here's the third piece in my weekly quilt series. I've decided on sticking to the 10 x 10 inch format, and will probably add another binding around the first piece to make it conform to this size specification (that first one is 9 x 9" as that was my original intention for the series).

Anyway, this quilt is a wholecloth piece of handprinted fabric -- printed with two different deconstructed screens -- backed and bound by a commercial batik fabric.

Like Jeanne Williamson (and many other quilters), I'm a grid junkie. Along with construction fencing and landscape mesh, my favorite thing to use for printing small grid designs is foam rug-hooking backing. That's what the template was in the piece above. It's like gi-normous needlepoint canvas.

This is being a very productive week for me, and there are still days left. My creative soul feels afire and free!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Second Discharge Quilt

Second Discharge QuiltI love this piece! It's the second in my Discharge series, finished size about 13 x 13 inches. It reminds me of something African, the savannah, animal stripes. The Discharge series began as my chosen theme for the assignments in The Art Quilt Workbook, but it's already taken on a life of its own. I'm still using this theme for the assignments, but I'm letting each finished piece be the size it wants to be instead of conforming to a size specification. The first quilt in this series is about the same size. I'm working on the next one -- which will include a digital image on fabric -- and it looks like that one will be even bigger. But it will still follow the Discharge theme.

I also finished my 3/52 weekly quilt today -- but I'll post that tomorrow.

I'm waiting for some supplies to come from Dharma Trading, so I can complete my latest Art Cloth piece. I'm trying on ideas mentally for next steps on another handwoven Art Cloth. And a third piece is looming at the edge of my creative consciousness. I have exhibits later this year -- three lined up so far -- and need more work to show!

If You're A Cat Lover...

I just watched this video on Leah Piken's Creative Every Day blog. Check it out!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hot Off The Press

Digital images on fabric

Here are four just-printed digital images on fabric that I did this morning. Two of these are on a heavy cotton/rayon fabric, and two are on Osnaburg homespun (not by me!) cotton. I soaked the fabric pieces in Bubble Jet Set yesterday, let them dry overnight, ironed flat this morning and adhered freezer paper, printed them, let them set for about an hour, peeled off the freezer paper, rinsed the images in tepid water with a bit of Synthrapol, and they're drying now.

I've been experimenting with dpi on my digital images -- higher dpi means more ink on the fabric to potentially wash off during rinsing. My images last week were at 150 dpi, these above are at 75 dpi, and I don't notice any difference in the finished and dried fabric. What that means is that I'm getting a strong image with as little ink washoff as possible.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I also wanted to try Golden Digital Ground (in matte white), and today I received the sale catalog for Dick Blick where the Digital Ground is on sale for 40% off. Right now, 8 oz. is $8.63, regular price over $14. So I ordered some to give it a try.

A note on my beloved Canon printer -- I'm using Canon's dye-based inks and I'm really happy with the images on fabric. I'm extremely impressed, because I've been using the printer constantly since before Thanksgiving and I haven't yet had to replace the original ink cartridges. The print monitor keeps telling me that several of the inkwells are low, but unlike Epson, these babies print until there isn't a drop of ink left in them. Epson would have forced me to change cartridges long before now, when they were still half full. (Okay, I'll get off my Epson-bashing soapbox!)

New handwoven fabrics

Just off the loom and laundered, these two lengths of fabric, both 20/2 cotton warp (the warp I beamed on a couple weeks ago to replace the linen warp from hell). The bottom piece has linen weft and the finished size is 20 inches by two yards. The top piece with shibori threads has crepe rayon weft, consequently it's very drapey and a bit crinkly, at a finished size of 15 inches by about 60 inches.

Next on the loom will be a very fine silk warp at about 18 inches wide.

Studio View

Studio View, January 2009I'm in the midst of various projects...but thought I'd post a recent photo of my studio -- my primary studio anyway. I've also got my sewing/ironing/sales studio at the front of the house, and my wet work studio table in the kitchen. Then there's my loom in the living room. And my spinning wheel, which sits recently unused by the fireplace in the family room.

Speaking of my unused spinning wheel, I've been saying lately that "Quilting is the new spinning, for me!" I have a spinning project on the wheel, and I haven't done anything on it in a couple of months. This is the first time in a dozen years that I've backed off from spinning as I have. All that ultra-fine silk I spun for the last five years really did a number on my wrists. In other words, I have carpal tunnel syndrome in both my wrists, and repetitive motion activities have become almost extinct in my world. With quilting, and other endeavors, I'm changing activities pretty regularly, using my hands and wrists in different ways. So it's not quite as hard on my body as sitting and spinning for hours was.

Actually, I'm saving my wrists for spinning, because I'll be teaching spinning and dyeing classes again this spring. And it's not like I need any more handspun yarn to use. I've still got a lifetime supply already spun up!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Print Storm

I spent the entire day printing fabric -- the final layer on pieces I started eons ago, plus a couple of new pieces. I printed off three deconstructed screens I made a few weeks ago, plus did some other printing with thickened dyes. Here are a few images of the fabrics...

Tomorrow, the Northern California regional rep from the Surface Design Association will be in Fortuna at April Sproule's studio, for a local potluck gathering and show-and-tell. I'm really looking forward to that!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just Another Creative Day In Paradise

Handwoven art cloth in process Thiox discharged black commercial fabricsI took the next step today on a handwoven piece I started a couple months back -- that's the first image. It's cotton and tencel on which I did loom-controlled mokume, to look like it was handstitched shibori. After weaving, I painted it, gathered the shibori threads, then discharged it with bleach. Yesterday I pole wrapped the piece for arashi shibori, and today I discharged it again, this time with thiox.

And while I had the thiox pot going, I discharged another few pieces of fabric to use in art quilts -- that's the second image.

I'm kicking around a few ideas to finish off the handwoven piece, which is intended to be art cloth. Hoping to have it completed in the next few days.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2/52.2009 "My Guy"

BeeGee, late 20082/52.2009 My Guy - small art quiltGolly, it's only January 6 and I've already completed my second of 52 weekly quilts in this series. It's so much fun, it's all I want to do. I want to turn everything into a quilt, at this point!

This second small piece also fulfills an exercise in The Art Quilt Workbook -- printing a digital image on fabric and quilting it. That's rusted fabric that I printed the image on, and the surrounding fabric was a black print commercial fabric that I discharged twice then printed on. The backing/edging is commercial cotton.

My Guy is about 10 inches square. The first piece in the series, Figs, is 9 inches square. I was planning to stick to the smaller size, but the new one got a little bigger, and I figured what the hell, I'll break my own rule. So far, all my quilts have been different sizes, and I realize it would be a good idea to be consistent, if for no other reason than it would be good to be able to make something that conforms to a size specification. I'm also thinking about future presentation, and designing small quilts to a standard size that could then be mounted on standard-sized stretched canvas is what I'm aiming for. But I'm just starting out, so who really cares!

Regardless of what I do size-wise with the "52.2009" series, I am planning another series of quilts to be 12 x 15 inches in vertical orientation, based on digital images I'm taking of fabrics that I've created by various means.

I've been hot on the loom for the past two days, as well. Finished the first piece of three, and am well into the second one. I also prepared an art cloth piece to be shiboried and am tying up another few pieces of fabric to be dyed or discharged.

Yesterday I felt kind of funky -- because it was Monday? because it was the first real day of the new year? -- I don't know. Today was a better day, and I'm getting back into a groove.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Digital Image Experiments

Here's the result of my experimenting this weekend with Bubble Jet Set and 50/50 fabric softener/water. This is two pieces of fabric, 8.5 x 11 laid together after finishing. The fabric is either linen/rayon or cotton/rayon -- I can't remember. Anyhow, the image on the left was printed on Bubble Jet Set and the one on the right on fabric softener-soaked fabric.

The process was exactly the same for both. I soaked the fabric in the solution for a bit, drip dried, ironed onto freezer paper, printed the image, let it set for at least 30 minutes, washed in cold water with synthrapol, dried and ironed.

Not only is the image vastly better with BJS over fabric softener, but I also boosted the image quality and contrast when I printed the fabric softened batch! A couple more complaints about fabric softener: I hate the way that stuff smells, and no matter what scent you get, it still stinks up the house. I also dislike the rather oily-soft hand of the fabric, plus the fact that you can feel the softener in the fabric (as well as smell it) pretty much forever. So I'm finished with that stuff.

I've got more BJS soaked fabric drying overnight so I can print a few images tomorrow and get on with my projects.

Friday, January 2, 2009


1/52-2009 Art Quilt My first quilt of 2009! Also my first of 52 weekly 9" x 9" quilts (altho I may change the size format after working with this for a bit), and this one incorporates an exercise from The Art Quilt Workbook having to do with utilizing digital images. This was a photograph I downloaded off the Internet, traced, and translated into fabric. Can you guess what the fruit is?

I've continued my experimenting with printing digital images directly on fabric. After several attempts with various coatings on fabric, and having nothing I tried render the dye-based printer inks permanent, I decided to use Bubble Jet Set. And it looks like this is working -- I have four images I printed earlier today drying now, and they've already been washed after setting. The images look clear and strong. I also purchased some fabric softener today, because I want to give that a try, too (it's far less expensive than BJS). Numerous people say that a 50/50 blend of the softener and water will yield the same permanence as BJS, with dye-based inks on fabric. So I'll see. I'm still curious about trying Golden Digital Ground, which was recommended over the Golden Gel Media, which I tried but which did not make the image permanent. But I do like the fact that BJS and fabric softener will not affect the hand of the fabric, which is a big deal to me right now. So I'll likely hold off on the Digital Ground for now.

So now that I've got some good digital images on fabric, I'll move on with another assignment in The Art Quilt Workbook. Other studio goals for January include finishing two pieces of handwoven, surface designed art cloth, completing the current weavings on the loom (I'm nearly finished with the first of three), applying to three or four shows I'm considering, planning several more finished art cloth pieces, and a few more small quilts (besides the weekly ones).

I feel like I'm off to a good start already this year -- and it's only January 2! The holiday energy is behind me and I'm looking forward to all that 2009 holds.